"Speaking Where the Bible Speaks"

Olin Kern
Fort Smith, Arkansas

For the last 100 years the plea of preachers in the church of Christ has been, "we speak where the Bible speaks and we are silent where the Bible is silent." This evidently was not a bad practice to follow, because during this time in the United States the church of Christ became the fastest growing religious body. Even though numbers have very little to do with the Truth of God, it goes without saying that "speaking where the Bible speaks," is in complete harmony with the Word of God. God has informed His people that this is His will. In Deut. 4:2 we read, "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." Also, "add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee and thou be found a liar" (Proverbs 30:6).

The Holy Spirit has revealed in the New Testament "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18-19). These warnings should cause even the casual reader to realize that it is most foolish to tamper and attempt to change the word of God to fit our own whims. The Bible has proved itself time and again and it certainly does not need to be changed -- it needs to be believed and practiced.

Here in Fort Smith, Arkansas, we have a very popular radio preacher. He has been on the largest radio station for about 16 years and has a wide listening audience. I would suppose in some respects that he does a lot of good. However on November the 4th, 1967, someone asked him a question on the air in regard to some Bible theme. The person asking the question was demanding book, chapter and verse for the things that this man was teaching. Apparently this infuriated the preacher that anyone would question anything that he said or believed. He proceeded to make the following statement, "I feel sorry for anyone that thinks you have to give book, chapter and verse for what you do.'' Perhaps he has been getting his material from those close to home. Have not we heard about the same thing? Have you ever heard anyone say, "You do not have to have Bible authority for what you do?" Or, "we are no longer bound by the silence of the Bible." These two or three statements all come from the same mold of sin.

Since God is the authority in matters of religion and not the preacher under consideration, we have only to turn to the Bible, and here we learn the truth. Hear the testimony of the inspired writers: "But sanctify the Lord in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" (1 Peter 3:15). In view of the scriptures already mentioned, that we should follow the Bible and that alone, I wonder what possible answer I am expected to give when a person inquires about the Bible? Remember that the Lord said, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). John informs us that "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Now when asked a question, what should I say? Should I give an opinion of my own and tell them this is the will of God? Should I say the Spirit has not revealed it unto me as yet? Every true Bible student would instruct me to just tell them what the Lord says about the matter! This is speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent. When we ask for book, chapter and verse, we are saying, "Give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." Just a simple request for Bible authority.

I am sure that the preacher could not give book, chapter and verse for what he believed. So the only thing left for him to do is to make fun of any person who would think that you should have Bible authority for what you do. We all need to remember this plea, for a failure to remember it is that which splits the church of our Lord. For example where is the book, chapter and verse in the New Testament that will authorize mechanical instruments of music in the worship service, or the church supported basketball teams, or the church supported golf course, or the church supported colleges, or the church supported homes for the aged, unwed mothers, or church supported orphan homes and church supported fellowship halls? The congregations who engage in these unscriptural practices cannot be critical of our preacher friend who says, "he feels sorry for anyone that thinks you should give book, chapter and verse for what you do." If it is in the Bible I want to do it -- if it is not found in the word of our Lord then we had better let it alone. Did not Christ suffer and die on this earth so that we might have a law to go by and an example to follow! For many years this was believed to be true, but now in 1969 someone comes along and tells us that this is all wrong and we need to change. Preachers who say this need to change and not the word of God.

Many verses teach that Christ and God set up the rules for the church and we as God's children must obey these rules or perish. Just a few verses to prove this point: "And hath put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:22-23). "He is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, the first born from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). We are told in the word of God to listen to the voice of His son. "While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him" (Matt. 17:5). "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds" (Heb. 1:1-2). God has given all things that we need to learn the way of His son and it is evident that we should not drift away from God.

We should be known today for the theme of, "where the Bible speaks we speak and where the Bible is silent we are silent." We may be bigger (numerically) than we were when this statement was started -- but we are not so big that we no longer have to follow the plain simple truth of God. When a preacher, or anyone else for that matter, makes fun of you for wanting book, chapter and verse for what you do, just remember that this is the very command of God himself and we do greatly err when we depart from the living God. Question: Do you speak where the Bible speaks, and are you silent where the Bible is silent?"

May 1969